Being positive, choosing to cultivate happiness can attract some bad press. "You're not living in the real world", is one such comment. Thankfully many of our schools acknowledge how important positive mental health is and make space in their (very crowded) curriculum to teach positive psychology strategies such as growth mindset and gratitude.
Personally, I have always struggled with being positive and optimistic. Many days I am making the conscious choice to be positive, to choose the best way of living I know. Some days where energy levels are low and my mind turns to the thought that I can't wait for the day to be over, those are the days I need to make a choice, to use some of the practical, positive evidence based strategies that will dial up the happiness and energy.
So turning up each day and choosing to be positive, particularly on those days is a strength of character. It is learning these strategies that can make a very real difference in our mental health.
Positivity is not at odds with realism. To live fully in reality, it is essential to cultivate, and yes work on, positivity, optimism and happiness.
Being positive encompasses knowing your strengths as well as your weaknesses; practicing gratitude towards the people, experiences and resources in your life; having a growth mindset whereby you continue to learn and be open to all that is happening in your life; working on your cognitive flexibility whereby you can see there is more than one way of interpreting the world, more than one way of living your truth, always more than one way of thinking about everything.
Raising positive young people can be a horrendously difficult task in this world which often appears to be crumbling down around us. It takes strong, courageous parents and educators to guide our young people to live positively. There is nothing superficial about this at all.
Positive Young Minds is unashameably proud to work with parents, educators and young people to draw out their strengths, foster their courage and determination, and help them connect with the good, the greatness and the wonder of the world around them.
As parents or educators young people look to you to teach them and show them how to do this.
If you would like to learn more about how to increase levels of optimism in young people you look after simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
* My aim is for these posts is meant to useful, interesting and/or inspiring. They are not designed to be used for therapy.. If you are experiencing stress please contact your GP or mental health professional.
Kim Ross is a Psychologist and Founder of Positive Young Minds and Essential Self-Care for Psychologists.